There are few things in this world as terrifying as asking a woman out on a date.
If you claim otherwise, you’re either deluded or lying. Asking a woman “want to go out sometime?” means putting your ego on the line. You’re inviting rejection on the most personal level.
Louis CK perfectly summed up the internal struggle that every guy faces when he tries to be romantically bold with a woman he’s just met. “Everything in your body is telling you ‘Just go the fuck home and jerk off, don’t do this’” But you do it anyway, CK says, because “sometimes she’ll say yes.”
But sometimes she’ll say no. And that can feel like a shiv to the kidneys.
It’s her loss, your friends will assure you. She just didn’t realize how awesome you are. She’s got her own issues that have nothing to do with you. Forget her and have another beer!
It’s not just your friends telling you that. People who spend their lives studying and analysing rejection and how to survive it will say the same thing.
“What I tell guys is, if the woman didn’t tell you why she rejected you, assume it’s because of her issues or circumstances rather than because of any deficiency of yours,” says Guy Winch, Ph.D. author of Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts.
You might agree at first. But then it’s 2am and you’re wide awake, staring at the ceiling, and wondering why you’re such an unlovable monster.
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Let’s start with the basics: You’re not being a wimp for taking it hard. Rejection hurts because being romantically rejected is similar to trying to kick a cocaine habit.
Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist and Clinical Professor in Neurology at Einstein College of Medicine in New York, studied the brain activity of 15 college-age men and women who had recently been rejected by their partners. In all cases, certain key areas of the brain — like the orbitofrontal/prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate — responded in the same way to a breakup that it does during a particularly harrowing drug detox.
Brown calls it a “natural addiction,” but it’s the same built-in brain pathways that keep us fighting to cling onto substance addictions.
Remember that the next time a woman says no and it hurts. Of course it hurts! You’re like Keith Richards in the 70s being denied heroin.
There’s not a lot you can do to change whether women do or don’t find you attractive. In fact, the more studies there are on why heterosexual humans are attracted to each other, the more random and arbitrary it all seems.
According to research from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, women are attracted to guys with the same hair and eye color as their fathers.
Another study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, found that the colour red makes men appear more powerful to women, and therefore more desirable.
And then there’s the 2011 University of British Columbia study, which found that women aren’t likely to go home with a guy if he smiles too much.
Is that helpful? If you want to get more dates, just wear red, have eyes like her dad, and stop smiling.
The truth is: “People are attracted to us, or not, for all sorts for reasons that are beyond our control. We worry about the right word, the right approach, the right clothes, all because we’re convinced that if we craft ourselves in the perfect way, we’ll find a great date,” says Dr. Craig Malkin, a clinical psychologist and instructor at Harvard Medical School. But attraction doesn’t work that way.
“There is no right move,” Malkin says. “Some women might even like the guy who seems a little nervous or quiet. One women’s Adonis is another’s Quasimodo — and vice versa.”
(Related: Why Cheesy Pick Up Lines Work For Some Guys)
The solution, as you’re probably tired of hearing by now, is to be more self-confident. How many times have you heard that advice? “It’s not about how you look, it’s whether you exude self-confidence.” But what the hell does that actually mean? How can you exude self-confidence if you’re not, in fact, all that self-confident?
Malkin thinks it begins with healthy narcissism. Which is a very different thing than being a full-on narcissist. It’s about finding “the capacity to see ourselves through slightly rose-colored glasses,” he says.
“You don’t have to feel confident first to take a risk,” says Malkin, who published a book this summer called Rethinking Narcissism. Like asking out that insanely hot woman, when every fibre of your being is telling you to stop, she’s not in your league. Louis CK was right, go home and jerk off. But you ask her anyway. Because why not?
Healthy narcissism, Malkin says, is all about “assuming you’re special enough to accomplish something — like finding someone excited to meet you — until you’re proven otherwise.”
The “until proven otherwise” part is what keeps it from veering into creepy territory. An actual narcissist refuses to take no for an answer. Somebody who keeps trying and trying, even when it’s abundantly clear that she’s not interested.
A healthy narcissist, on the other hand, assumes he’s desirable, and when (or if) he’s rejected, he just moves on. There are about 3.5 billion women in the world. He doesn’t have time to hang around with somebody who doesn’t recognize his inherent awesomeness.
“We’re all drawn to people who take healthy risks,” says Malkin. “That’s why bad boys and girls do so well. So we need to take a page from their book — but never copy it in its entirety — by at least jumping in, taking some action early on.”
Does it guarantee that she won’t say no, or that it won’t hurt as much if she doesn’t want you? Nope. But you might find yourself wallowing in self-pity a little less, and spending a little more time looking for the woman who’ll feel lucky that she found you.
By: Eric Spitznagel